October 26, 2016

Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Protect-a-Pilgrim

Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: In Protect-a-Pilgrim, students build a shelter designed to protect Pilgrims from wind, rain, and snow. Includes modifications grades 2 - 8.Thanksgiving is right around the corner; I can already smell the pumpkin pie! To keep kids engaged during the holiday season, why not walk them through the experiences of the Pilgrims as they settled into their new homes in the Plymouth Colony?

Over the next few weeks, I'll be going though five STEM challenges that serve that purpose:

Mini Mayflower 

(Get to where you're going)

Protect-a-Pilgrim 
(Build a shelter)

Pumpkin Picker 
(Gather available food)

Corn Cultivator 
(Sustainable food source)

Turkey Transporter 
(Major needs are met; time for fun!)

Last week, the Pilgrims made it to the New World in Mini Mayflower. This week, it's time to Protect-a-Pilgrim!



Premise:

Students will design a shelter to protect a Pilgrim (or Native American) from wind, rain, and snow.


Where Can I Find Out More?


The video walk-through of Protect-a-Pilgrim is embedded below. In it, you'll find information about materials, modifying difficulty level, extensions and some tips & tricks to guide you, so you can better guide your students through the challenge. Check it out. However, if you prefer to read, you'll find the video transcribed at the end of this post. 





Where are the Others?


The resources are already in my TPT store, and the blog/video posts are coming over the next few weeks. This is the second of five Thanksgiving challenges. Starting Oct. 20, I'll be posting one Thanksgiving STEM challenge video every Thursday to my YouTube channel and here on my blog.

Until then, you'll find the Thanksgiving bundle briefly described in this post









All challenges are available individually and in discounted bundles in my TpT store, as well.

                                                                                         


Video Transcription

Hello, and welcome to the week 2 of the Thanksgiving Week Challenges. Last week, the Pilgrims came over from the Old World to the New World in Mini Mayflower. This week, now that they're here in Plymouth, they're gonna need to build a shelter. This one's called, "Protect the Pilgrim", and before we go any further, let's take a second to check out the materials and the STEM Challenge cycle.

This is the STEM Challenge Cycle you should follow for every challenge. I've defined each step in another video. You can click on the title now to see the cycle explained.

One of the things that will be on your criteria constraints list, is a size requirement. So, something that will help with that is, if you have little cutouts of Pilgrims. Based on how big you want the shelters to be, that's how big you make your Pilgrims. Mine are about three inches tall.

Something else you can do, if you don't want to just have Pilgrims, you can always introduce Native American's as well. I asked students to design a shelter that would keep the Pilgrims warm, dry, and safe. In order to make sure the shelters are warm, dry, and safe, we will be testing the shelters against rain, wind, and snow.

Once you've assured that the Pilgrims can in fact enter, once the Pilgrims are safe inside their shelter, then you're gonna want to go ahead and test them. For wind, you can either set up a fan, if you have one of those little mini fans. Make sure that it blows, you test it from 360 degrees around the shelter, and the shelter should remain in place. If you don't have a fan, you can always just use a straw.

For rain, you can use a spray bottle or you can just take a piece of foil or plastic wrap, and punch holes in it, and just sprinkle. You can use an eye dropper. Really anything. You can even have students design a rain maker. The idea is, if I were to spray at any point on the design, it would keep the Pilgrims dry. If I take the Pilgrims out and I find that they are wet, then my design has failed. Boy Pilgrim, safe and dry. Girl Pilgrim, safe and dry.

Safety in this challenge is really measured by whether or not the structure is strong enough to resist collapse if it snows, as it often does in New England. You can test this by putting any kind of weights on top of the structure. One easy thing to do is, just get some water bottles, or soda cans, or whatever. Success.

Just in case you were wondering what this one looks like, it's like a basically little cave and the Pilgrim would just go inside. Now, he does have to duck but he can make it inside so, that's all right. It is a little bit light, but it did withstand the wind test. I feel pretty confident it's gonna withstand the rain test. I'm not sure about the snow test.

Okay. So, this one actually withstands it as well. Just like you saw me kind of working, and fiddling, and trying to find a place where I could put the water bottle, you can decide whether or not to allow the students to do that or not. With younger students, I would absolutely let them do it that way, and as long as they found any point on the structure where the water bottle would hold, it's successful against snow. With older students, I would require that they test for the strength of the structure in at least two different places, and they could record their results as a two out of two successful, or a one out of two, or zero out of two.

Now, you might be tempted to test the structures until the failure point, just like we did with the Mini Mayflower last week. I'm gonna recommend against that this time. I did do a video a couple week back, that was about whether or not, all STEM Challenges should be competitions. The straight answer is, "No." I will link it up above if you want to take a look at that.

Basically, my feeling is, some STEM Challenges should just be, "Did you meet the criteria?", and there can be many successful structures. So, that's what were looking for in this case. Choose whatever your weight point is, and use the same weight on each structure. It's really a "Yes" or "No". "Did the structure withstand that weight? Yes or no?" You don't need to make sure that all of the shelters collapse at the end of this one.

One thing you can do if you're looking to increase the difficulty for older students, is to give them soft materials and very few rigid materials. I wouldn't give older students Popsicle sticks if I was really trying to challenge them. It definitely makes it a lot more difficult to withstand the weight test. If you have nothing but malleable materials to work with but, it can be done.

You can also increase the number of Pilgrims or Native Americans that have to fit inside the structure in order to increase difficulty. For extensions on this, I would have students research what the Pilgrims actually did make their homes from in Plymouth. Then from a science perspective, I would use this as an opportunity to explore physical properties of matter, and identify the physical properties of the materials they used, as well as maybe some of the physical properties of materials that they would want to use, and that the Pilgrims used.

So, you have the basics and you're ready to do this one your own in your classroom but, if you're looking for more than just the basics, let's say, "You want student handouts, more modifications, more cross curricular connections", you need to check out the resource.

Give yourself the gift of time. This resource contains everything you need, including modifications for use with second through eighth graders. You'll still need to gather the simple materials of course, but the rest is ready to go. You'll get Aligned Next Generation Science Standards, links to my STEM Challenge How-to videos to help you get the most from each challenge, and the protected Pilgrim Materials list.

In Teacher Tips, you'll find premise and set up, how to increase or decrease difficulty through the Criteria and Constraints list, measuring results, and cross-curricular extension suggestions. You'll find an editable Criteria and Constraints list, so you can tailor the challenge to your students. For Student Handouts, there are two versions. Four-page expanded room for response for younger students, and a two-page condensed space paper saver version. You'll also find a group of discussion questions and cutouts of Pilgrims and Native Americans.

In the Extension Handouts, you'll find identifying physical properties, map extension, and process flow templates. This resource is available individually and is part of the discounted Thanksgiving and Mega STEM Challenge bundles. Links and be found in the description below the video.

I get a lot of really great feedback on this challenge, and I've gotten it from first grade teachers, all the way up through high school, SDC, and middle school, and everything in between. Be sure you like and subscribe. Next week, we'll be back with Pumpkin Picker. See you next time.

October 19, 2016

Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Mini Mayflower

Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Build a mini Mayflower for capacity and/or strength and sail to the New World. Includes modifications grades 2 - 8.


Thanksgiving approaches, and with it, the first long-ish holiday of the year. Sometimes you can feel yourself dragging your battered legs to that finish line! Trying to keep kids engaged as they too approach a much-needed rest can be a huge challenge. This is why I love STEM challenges so much. They're naturally enjoyable activities that are chock full of academic rigor (when done properly/with intent).

Over the coming weeks, I will be describing five (5) Thanksgiving challenges that follow the needs encountered by travelers setting up a new settlement: 

- Mini Mayflower (Get to where you're going)
- Protect-a-Pilgrim (Build a shelter)
- Pumpkin Picker (Gather available food)
- Corn Cultivator (Set up sustainable food source)
- Turkey Transporter (Once all major needs are met, there's time for fun!)


This week, we're heading over to the New World with Mini Mayflower!



Premise:


Students design a boat built for capacity and/or speed. Capacity can be measured in any uniform object: pennies, base ten blocks, candy pumpkins (warning: food can get messy if/when the ships sink), etc.






Where Can I Find Out More?


The video walk-through of Mini Mayflower is embedded below. In it, you'll find information about materials, modifying difficulty level, extensions and some tips & tricks to guide you, so you can better guide your students through the challenge. Check it out. However, if you prefer to read, you'll find the video transcribed at the end of this post. 






Where are the Others?


Patience, grasshopper! Good things come to those who wait. This is the first of five Thanksgiving challenges. Starting Oct. 20, I'll be posting one Thanksgiving STEM challenge video every Thursday to my YouTube channel and here on my blog.

Until then, you'll find the Thanksgiving bundle briefly described in this post










All challenges are available individually and in discounted bundles in my TpT store, as well.



                                                           

Video Transcription

Hi, welcome to the first of five Thanksgiving Challenges. This is actually one of my favorite series because each challenge leads into the next. I designed these challenges to loosely mimic what the Pilgrims would have gone through when they came to the New World. It goes step-by-step in their journey. The first challenge that we'll talk about today in just a second is Mini Mayflower so they had to get from the Old World to the New World. Once there, they have to build a shelter. They need somewhere to live. That one's called Protect-a-Pilgrim. Then they need to gather food. That would be Pumpkin Picker. That leads into some more long-term planning.

They need to learn to farm so they can have a sustainable settlement. That challenge that goes with that is called corn cultivator. Now once all of these things are in place, then there's a little bit of time for fun. That last challenge is called Turkey Transporter. For today, let's get started on challenge one. We need to get to the New World, Mini Mayflower. In this challenge, students will build a boat built for capacity. You can also decide if you want to have them build for speed. Before we get too far into the details, let's take a second to look at the materials and the STEM challenge cycle. This is the STEM Challenge Cycle you should follow for every challenge.

I've defined each step in another video. You can click on the title now to see the cycle explained. You're always welcomed to change up the materials however you like. I just will recommend foil sheets for this one. It is a little bit pricier to buy them in the pullout food prep sheets than it is in the roles, but it's a lot simpler to distribute even amounts to every group. Let me just caution you, don't give them too many materials on this or it will be very difficult to sink those ships. So each of these boats was made with just one foil sheet. If you have older students, you might want to even just give them half of a foil sheet. You're going to need a little container for the boats to float in.

Make sure that they're deep enough so that the boats will actually sink if they hit the bottom. The problem with this one is it's not quite deep enough. We'll see if this one sinks or not but you can also use something with a little bit more depth, something like this. Just hit the Dollar Tree. There's always a bunch of stuff you can use. You're going to want some uniform objects in order to test the capacity. I suggest marbles because they've got some good weight to them. You'll be surprised at how much these boats can hold. You don't want to go with anything too light like paper clips. You'll run out of paper clips for sure. Base-ten-blocks, marbles, candies, pennies, that kind of thing.

Students should place in one marble at a time so that it's easy for them to tell where the failure point was once it does sink. Now if you run out of objects, whatever your object is, before the boat sinks and you want to see how much the boat can take, you can start using nonuniform objects. If you're going to do that, you might want to try to have a scale on hand so you can get at least the total weight of what the boat withheld before it failed. This one didn't fail and I did run out of marbles so I would just keep adding, like I said, some other objects. If you want to increase difficulty on this, you can add a speed criterion so how fast can the boat actually travel.

Now, it's very difficult to do this if you don't have a stream table like this. If you take a look at it, my container is just barely larger than this boat so you're going to need a larger container if you're going to want to test for speed. One recommendation I do have is if you are going to test for both capacity and speed, do the speed test first. Because what will happen is the capacity test, you're basically testing until the boat fails. At that point, you won't be able necessarily to test the speed. Another thing you can do if you want to actually slow down the boats a little bit because maybe you don't have a long enough stream table is to go ahead and put some weight in.

Ask every group to put in 10 marbles and that should slow it down a little bit. With the speed test, one of the things I like to do is to label the start line, the Old World, and the finish line, the New World. The students are not allowed to actually touch the boat once it's in the water with their hands, and I will nudge it into place. In order to make the boat go, they would either need to use wind or waves. I suppose there's a way to use maybe oars. I've just not seen anyone do that yet, but the students would probably most likely use a sail. You can decide whether or not you want to limit the members of the team who are allowed to participate in making the boat go however they've designed it to go.

Another thing you can do to increase difficulty is ask each group to design two or more boats and then either require them not to use the same base material. In this one, I used foil for the base so in my second one I wouldn't be allowed to use foil. I'd have to use something else that was providing the materials. Another thing you can do, require that the base shapes be different. These two could come from the same group because we have basically a canoe shape, and we have a more of a rectangular prism. Although this is sort of close to a rectangle, you can see it's pinched at the ends. Processions on this one, obviously they can study the history of the Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower.

Of course from a science perspective, buoyancy, water displacement, Archimedes principle, and then energy transfer through wind and waves. You have the basics but if you want more than just the basics, check out the resource. This resource contains everything you need to guide your students though the Mini Mayflower Challenge including modifications for use with 2nd through 8th graders. You'll still need to gather the simple materials of course, but the rest has been done for you. You'll get Aligned Next Generation Science Standards. Links to my STEM challenge How-to videos help you get the most from each challenge and the Mini-Mayflower Materials list.

In Teacher Tips, you'll find premise and setup, how to increase or decrease difficulty through the Criteria and Constraints list, measuring results and cross-curricular extension suggestions. You'll find two versions of editable Criteria and Constraints list so you can tailor the challenge to your students. For Student Handouts, there are two versions, four-page expanded room for response for younger students and a two-page condensed space paper saver version. You'll also find a set of group discussion questions. In the Extension Handouts, you'll find math extension and process flow templates.

This resource is available individually and bundled with Boat Building which includes Mini Mayflower, as well as a second version that dives deeper into data and design analysis in using the scientific method. You'll also find Mini Mayflower as part of the discounted Thanksgiving and Mega STEM Challenge Bundles. Links can be found in the description below the video. Thanks for joining me on our first week. Please don't forget to like and describe. Next week, we'll be back with Protect-a-Pilgrim.

October 12, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

Your burning STEM Challenge questions answered. If yours isn't on the list, comment or message and I'll be happy to answer!



There are a few questions I get quite a bit through my TPT store, this blog, and other social media. Today, I'm covering my top 4. 

Question: Your STEM challenges are listed for grades 2 - 8. I don't think it's possible that any activity could be appropriate for that age range; are you full of lies? 

Short answer - It's totally possible / I'm not full of lies! Because I know this is a very common question and cause for concern, I had a special video made to quickly explain how any challenge can be made appropriate for any age! Watch it here.



For just a little offering of proof, here are a few of the teacher-buyer comments I've received on one of my resources, Protect-a-Pilgrim:

“Fun activity to use year after year. It was a great way to challenge my students with learning disabilities (high school). They loved doing this activity.”

“My middle school kids had a lot of fun.”

“So awesome! My firsties really enjoyed this activity.”

“My 7th and 8th graders loved this!”

"Did it with first graders...They loved it!"

Question: Should every STEM challenge be treated as a competition?

Short answer: No, not every challenge. And before you label me as one of those give-everyone-a-trophy-for-trying people, hear me out. I have good reasons, check out the video below. However, if you prefer to read, you'll find the video transcribed at the end of this post.


Question: Should I use a materials budget lists to constrain students in the engineering process?

Short answer: I'm not a fan, so I don't use them. That doesn't mean you shouldn't or that they can't be used well. For me, budget lists slow down the process too much without providing a valuable trade-off for that investment of time. However, giving students constraints to design around is a critical piece of the engineering process! I prefer to constrain materials simply by only providing a set amount, as well as constraining other aspects of the challenge rather than implement materials budgets. I explain more in the video above.

Question: What challenges do you have available for ____ (time of year)? / Are you ever going to bundle all of your challenges?

Yes, I finally did create a mega bundle! I have 43 challenges in all. You can see the quick preview of my current challenge library in the brief video below:



Do you have a burning STEM challenge question?

I love to discuss STEM challenges, so feel free to reach out with any questions you might have in the comments, via email, or social media. You'll find links for all up in the header of this page.


Video Transcription

Hi guys! Today I'm gonna be going over some frequently asked questions I get through my Teachers Pay Teachers store and my blog. So let's get started.

Question: Should every STEM challenge be treated as a competition? Answer: I don't think so. So this is a tough one for me, because I am an incredibly competitive person, so my inclination is to always make things a competition. I know, not the healthiest thing. Students who are like me are likely to view all STEM challenges through the lens of competition, but that doesn't mean you have to. I think competition can be a healthy and great thing, but we wanna make sure that it's serving our goals. So in order to answer this question I wanna think about the goals of STEM challenges.

Through STEM challenges we want students to become more comfortable with productive failure, we want them to take risks and be creative and innovative, and we want them to always be willing to try new things. Sometimes competition can conflict with those goals. Now, we know that for some students, competition fuels and motivates them, and actually helps them achieve those goals, but we also know that for some other students, competition shuts them down, peaks their anxiety level, it makes them less willing to try new things. It sorts of puts in their mind, failure is not an option, when it's a competition.

So like all things, you're gonna need to differentiate. Sometimes it's gonna be a competition, sometimes it's not going to be a competition. And I know that I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but this is another area where using multiple iterations will in fact help you serve your goals. You can use the first iteration just as an exploration, and if you decide to hold a competition, do it on the second iteration, or even a third. And that's not to say you can't ever have a competition on the first iteration, I would just say don't do that every time. And just know that the more STEM challenges you're doing with your students, the more likely they're gonna become more comfortable with the idea of competition over time.

If I had to sum that one up, should all STEM challenges be competitions? No. Should some STEM challenges be competitions? Absolutely, but it's up to you to figure out that balance for your kids.

Question: Should I use a materials budget sheet for my students? Some people set up their STEM challenges where each material has a price, so a pipe cleaner costs 15 cents, a rubber band costs 10 cents, and they give their students a total budget for their entire design, of maybe $2.50. This is one way to introduce constraints, which is part of the engineering process, to design around criteria and constraints. The reason I don't personally put them in my STEM challenges, is that it adds a layer of planning that I find is difficult for students to be able to do until they've had multiple iterations of a design, or until they've had a lot of general experience with STEM challenges, and it just slows things down too much.

That's not to say that they're bad, or that you shouldn't use them, it's just that from my perspective it pulls students' focus away from the design and doing something really creative, and bogs them down right at the beginning of the design, which sort of kills the fun a little bit. That's not to say that a budget sheet would never be appropriate, I just think, especially for younger students, or for first iterations, it's not the best way to go.

So if I had to sum that one up, should you constrain the students with a materials budget? I'm just not a fan, especially not on the first iteration. I just find that it slows students down, and limits their creativity at a time when they should be really building on that, and it adds a layer of frustration when down the line they really need an extra pipe cleaner but they bought an extra rubber band. STEM challenges have enough constraints and difficulties and frustrations as it is, so that's just not one I choose to introduce. Again, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, it's a completely valid thing to do. I just don't like it for my challenges, and that's why you don't find them in my challenges at this point. If I ever do change my mind about that, I can't imagine I would ever recommend doing it on a first iteration, but maybe on a second or third.

The last question that I've been getting quite a bit was, am I ever going to bundle all of my challenges together? So at this point in time I have 43 challenges, and I did finally put them together in a mega bundle. I will link a little preview of that up above.

If you have some STEM challenge questions you'd like me to answer, feel free to leave them in the comments bellow, or you can contact me through my Teachers Pay Teachers store, or my blog. The links for those are in the description bellow, just click on show more.

Be sure to like this video and subscribe. I will be back next week with the very first of our five Thanksgiving STEM challenges, see you next time.


October 6, 2016

Halloween STEM Challenge: Ghosts in the Graveyard

Halloween STEM Challenge: Ghosts in the Graveyard is an engaging, collaborative, hands-on activity in which students design a device to lift ghost out of the graveyard.

Kids have the worst time trying to concentrate on school the day of Halloween -- and it's even worse the day after! You'll need something extra engaging for them in order to keep their brains working at max capacity. Wouldn't you know it, I've got just the thing: Ghosts in the Graveyard! 


Premise:

Students build a device to lift ghosts out of the graveyard. This is essentially an exploration of pulleys.


Halloween Ban?

If Halloween activities are taboo or forbidden in your classroom, not to worry! Connect this challenge with pulleys and other simple machines. In fact, I made an alternate version called Grapes in the Vineyard that can be used any time of the year. If you're familiar with my work, you know how much I love alliteration. It was extremely difficult not to call it Grapes in the Grape-yard!  You can always find ways around a Halloween ban!


Where Can I Find Out More?

Want to know more about materials, how to increase or decrease difficulty for your grade level, and more? See the video below for a walk-through of this challenge. However, if you prefer to read, you'll find the video transcribed at the end of this post.




Are There Others Like This?


You know me, I hate to stop with one seasonal challenge, so I never do! This is one of five Halloween challenges. Each Halloween STEM challenge has a corresponding video on my YouTube channel.

You'll also find the Halloween bundle briefly described in this post

All challenges are available individually and in discounted bundles in my TpT store, as well.













Check out some of these other great ideas!




Blogger:






CREDITS:





Video Transcription

I can't believe we're already at week five of the Halloween STEM challenges. This one's called Ghosts in the Graveyard. The premise is to create an elevator or pulley system to lift ghosts up out of the graveyard. I always like to be sensitive to those who are trying to avoid Halloween activities. If that's the situation you find yourself in, then you can do the alternate version, which I call Grapes in the Vineyard. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to call the alternate version grapes in the graveyard and I wasn't sure people would appreciate the tongue in cheek for the sake of alliteration quite as much as I did.

Let's take a minute to check out the materials and the STEM Challenge Cycle. This is the STEM Cycle you should follow for every challenge. I've defined each step in another video. You can click on the title now to see the cycle explained.

Quick tip for setup, if you have time or you have some volunteers, it sure does make this a lot more adorable to have ghost faces on the cotton balls. If you're using grapes, you can have faces on the grapes too. If you do decide to put faces on the ghosts, just a quick tip that it works better to stipple rather than to try to color it. Don't move to marker around too much, just dab it in place a couple of times and the faces come out. This one actually I colored, I can tell because it's really fuzzy and blurry. They come out a little bit more defined when you just stipple.

If you are doing this with younger students, then you're going to want to set up the pulley for them, so that they can see it ahead of time. You just take the rope and you'll wrap it around the dowel just a couple of time is fine to make a very simple pulley. So because this dowel is wooden, it has a little bit of friction added and the rope is not entirely smooth either. You can see as I pull it up it's hitting bumps and snags along the way and that's going to increase difficulty. You might not be looking to increase difficulty. If you don't want that, then you're going to want to use something smooth like a PVC pipe or maybe a broom handle that's made of plastic. You might also look for a higher quality rope.

You can either set it up so that students are holding either end for you. What I usually do is set it up in between two desks and use textbooks to weight down either side, so it's just stable and you don't need anyone holding on to it. Inevitably if you have students holding on to it, somebody'll move or shake or sneeze and then people get upset. For younger students, I like for them to know what their designs are going to need to attach to. I would show them exactly what I just showed you with the dowel and I would show them that the connection point is right here. They're going to need to build something that can attach to this end.

This is one option. I have another attachment that I prefer to use, if you have a carabiner available to you. If you have a carabiner, just flip the binder clip around, connect the edges like this, and snap the carabiner through. Then this makes it really easy for students to connect their designs. I usually give the students another clip like this. Now they might not design it in such a way that their clip is facing up or that they even use a clip. They might just have looped ropes, but either way it tends to be pretty quick for a student to attach their design.

Let me put this down for a moment. You might be looking at this and thinking, "Well my students are a little bit older, that seems too simple." Let me give you a few ideas to make this a little bit more challenging. For older students I just wouldn't set up the pulley for them at all or any of the attachments. I would show them that they have this dowel and they need to create their elevator working with this dowel and these materials. Another thing that you're going to want to think about for older students is the materials that you are using.

For younger students I think using a small paper plate is pretty reasonable. As they get older, I wouldn't give them something that stable. I might think about actually cutting the paper plates in half and giving them only half of the paper plate. Or even giving them sort of a random or weird materials like a handful of paper clips and maybe a couple of rubber bands. Nothing that's very solid or flat.

As far as materials go, one of my favorite things to do is to hand them some materials that don't really quite make sense to me or some other grouping of materials that I think is impossible. Then I will tell the students it's entirely possible that the challenge I'm giving you is impossible. For a lot of students this actually frees them up and motivates them because they want to prove me wrong. A few other ideas to increase the difficulty. Set the pulley up very high and give them a time limit to get the ghosts from the graveyard to the top of the pulley. Another thing you can do is to introduce environmental conditions. You could have a fan set up from a distance and just turn it on, make sure it's the same distance for every group. Make sure it's the same angle for every group and make sure it's the same speed for every group. But you can create a wind condition in that way and that will make it more challenging.

Clearly with the last two challenges, Treat Toss and Ghosts in the Graveyard this one also lends itself very well to a study on simple machines. You're ready to do this challenge on your own, but if you want to know more, more modifications, more cross-circular connections. You just want to student handouts so you don't have to make them yourself, check out the resource.

Your time is valuable, so why reinvent the wheel. This resource contains everything you need including modifications for use with 2nd through 8th graders. You'll still need to get the materials of course, but the hard parts are already done. You'll get Aligned Next Generation Science Standards for grades two through eight, links to my STEM challenge professional development videos to help you get the most from each challenge and the Ghosts in the Graveyard Materials list. In Teacher Tips, you'll find premise and setup, how to increase or decrease difficulty through the criteria and constraints list, measuring results and cross-circular extension suggestions, which will be especially helpful if you need to prove this is not just a Halloween activity. In fact, this challenge also goes by another title Grapes in the Vineyard.

You'll find an editable Criteria and Constraints list so you can tailor the challenge to your students. For Student Handouts, they're two versions: four-page expanded room for response for younger students and a two-page condensed space paper saver version. You'll also find a set of group discussion questions. A non-Halloween version of the handouts that you can use anytime of the year is also included. In the Extension Handouts, you'll find a ghost character and scary by the senses writing templates as well as math and process templates. This resource is available individually and as part of a discounted Halloween and Mega STEM Challenge bundles. Links can be found in the description below.

Hope you enjoyed Ghosts in the Graveyard and all five of the Halloween STEM Challenges. Make sure that you like and subscribe. I'm going to be back next week with frequently asked questions. If you have questions about STEM challenges, feel free to leave them in the comments or you can contact me through my store or my blog. The links are in the description. Even though it's a little bittersweet that the Halloween challenges are done, Thanksgiving's right around the corner. See you next week.



October 2, 2016

September 2016 Recap



Whoa! September felt like a super, super long month.  So much has happened.  First of all, the most important thing for me to share is that I'm finally, actively on Instagram!




I know you were just holding on with bated breath waiting for the day, right?! I'm already seeing the power of it. People - maybe even you - have been tagging me in their posts of students hard at work on one of my STEM challenges. From the very bottom of my heart, I thank you! I can't tell you how much joy it brings me to see it! Please keep doing it! Or start doing it! I'm @kerrtrac (my name without the Ys).

I've also updated all of the Thanksgiving challenges this month (remember, I updated Halloween last month). I'm trying to stay well ahead of it for you!I know you will love the the additions, so be sure to re-download if you already own any of the following by going to "My Purchases" in TPT.




PRODUCT UPDATES

You are definitely going to want to re-download these if you own them, because  I added a lot of new goodies! You'll find new primary response pages with expanded room for response, new cross-curricular extension ideas and handouts, and more!













BLOG POSTS AND GUEST POSTS












YouTube

Videos are up for Halloween STEM challenges to give you plenty of time to prepare! Wings Wanted, Bone Bridge, Creature Catcher, and Treat Toss are live, and Ghosts in the Graveyard will post October 6th. 

**CLICK HERE FOR THE HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE-WALK-THROUGH PLAYLIST**


Life

Well, when I set out to write a monthly recap post, I included a "life" section so I would be forced to take the time to look back and reflect on the things going on in life that were not work-related. Last month really was a heads-down, get-the-work-done month. There isn't much outside of work that I can recall, except that a new season of Project Runway started, and that delights me. I think there's something in me that loves design challenges -- whether it be STEM or fashion!  

This is a good exercise for me, reflecting on how I'm living my life. Like so many, I have a tendency to get fixated on my work to the neglect of too many important aspects of a well-lived life!  I will set out to make October a little more balanced! In the words of Time Gunn, I'll "make it work"!

COMING IN OCTOBER

I'll be updating the winter & Christmas STEM challenges, and posting video walk-throughs for the Thanksgiving challenges on YouTube. I've got a brand new product line in mind I'll be starting on as well! And, of course, finding some non-work things to do, so it won't be all work and no play for the next recap!  Stay tuned.


WHAT ELSE?

If you want to receive notifications of these monthly recaps, you can follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers. I send a monthly note linking back to this post so all the links are easy to find (see the image below)! You can also follow this blog.

September Note to TPT Followers